A new study has indicated that a modest reduction in the intake of carbohydrate foods may help in reducing deep belly fat, even with little or no change in weight.
Lead author Barbara Gower, PhD, a professor of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that when paired with weight loss, consumption of a moderately reduced carbohydrate diet can help achieve a reduction of total body fat.
“These changes could help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, stroke and coronary artery disease,” she said, noting that excess visceral, or intra-abdominal, fat raises the risk of these diseases.
Gower and her colleagues conducted the study in 69 overweight but healthy men and women. The subjects received food for two consecutive eight-week periods: first a weight maintenance intervention, and then a weight loss intervention, which cut the number of calories that each person ate by 1,000 each day.
The subjects received either a standard lower-fat diet or a diet with a modest reduction in carbohydrates, or ‘carbs’, but slightly higher in fat than the standard diet.
The moderately carb-restricted diet contained foods that had a relatively low glycemic index, a measure of the extent to which the food raises blood glucose levels. This diet consisted of 43% calories from carbohydrates and 39% calories from fat, whereas the standard diet contained 55% of calories from carbohydrates and 27% from fat. Protein made up the other 18% of each diet.
At the beginning and end of each study phase, the researchers measured the subjects’ fat deep inside the abdomen and their total body fat using computed tomography (CT) and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans.
After the weight maintenance phase, subjects who consumed the moderately carb-restricted diet had 11% less deep abdominal fat than those who ate the standard diet.
However, when the researchers analysed results by race, they found it was exclusive to whites.
The results were presented recently at The Endocrine Society’s 93rd Annual Meeting in Boston.